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Valve Reveals Hardware Partners for Steam Machines Sans a Marketing Plan
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Valve Reveals Hardware Partners for Steam Machines Sans a Marketing Plan

Will people line up to buy these?

Valve have announced 13 hardware partners for creating and selling Steam Machines, the computers that will power Steam OS. Steam OS is an open source operating system based on the Linux Debian Kernel that will run a version of Steam designed for living room computers. It'll have a custom controller design to make gaming easier without a mouse and keyboard. You won't necessarily have to buy a Steam Machine to see it in action; when Steam OS launches later this year, you'll be able to build your own computer. 

The computers range in size, shape, and specifications. Prices start around $500 and can go up to the absurd - just like regular computers available online today. And really, that's all these are. These are regular computers that happen to have Valve's OS pre-installed. The problem I see with this list is that other than iBuy Power and AlienWare - there is almost zero retail availability. Both of those companies have deals with Best Buy, Wal-Mart and a few other retail establishments putting the visibility of the Steam Machine in front of the "everyday consumer." 

So what does that mean? It means the users that are usually in the market for computers from these manufacturers already have a computer, have access to install the Steam OS themselves, and really, have no need to limit themselves to a niche OS when spending upwards of $1000. One of Valve's partners (Digital Storm) is already planning on pre-loading their Steam Machine with both Windows and Steam OS in a dual boot configuration.

Perhaps the long tail here is the bigger picture and that once the OS makes its way into living rooms, and once driver manufacturers start supporting Linux better, and once the game developers start supporting Linux better, and all that stuff has time to mature - perhaps then the concept of buying a computer just for Steam will make sense. The reality is, a lot of people are basically buying a computer for gaming anyway, but now with the rise of Origin, UPlay, and other digital services - Valve is trying to solidify its position as the one place to go for it. 

But A LOT of things need to happen for that dream to come to fruition. There was no official word on pricing or what kind of availability there will be for the Steam Controller. A lot of the gaming press are trying to compare this launch with that of the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, but from what Valve has shown so far - the markets don't seem to have much overlap.  What do you think?

Steam Machines

Alternate - $1339
CPU - Intel Core i5 4570
Graphics - Gigabyte GTX 760
RAM - 16GB
Storage - 1TB SSHD

CyberPowerPC - $499 and up
CPU - AMD or Intel Core i5 CPU
Graphics - AMD Radeon R9 270/Nvidia GTX 760
Storage - 500GB

Digital Storm Bolt II - $2,584
CPU - Intel Core i7 4770K
Graphics - GTX 780 Ti
RAM - 16GB
Storage - 1TB HDD + 120 GB SSD

Gigabyte Brix Pro - TBD

CPU - Intel Core i7-4770R
Graphics - Intel Iris Pro 5200
RAM - 2 x 4GB
Storage - 1TB SATA 6Gb/sata

Falcon Northwest - $1,799 to $6000
CPU - Intel or AMD
Graphics - NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan
RAM - 8 to 16 GB
Storage - up to 6 TB

iBuyPower - $499 and up
CPU - Quad core AMD or Intel
Graphics - Radeon GCN Graphics
Storage - 500GB+

Maingear Spark - TBD

CPU - AMD A8-5557M 3.1GHz processor 
Graphics  AMD Radeon R9 M275X GDDR5 2GB
RAM - Up to 16GB
Storage - Up to 386GB mSATA

Materiel.net - $1,098

CPU - Intel Core i5 4440
Graphics - MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC
Storage - 8 GB + 1 TB SSHD

Next SPA - TBD

CPU - Intel Core i5 
Graphics - NVIDIA GT 760
Storage - 1TB

Origin PC Chronos -  TBD
CPU - Intel Core i7 4770K (3.9 to 4.6 GHz)
Graphics - 2 x 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titans

Scan NC 10 - $1,090
CPU - Intel Core i3 4000M
Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M
Storage - 500GB

Webhallen - $1,499

CPU - Intel Core i7
Graphics - Nvidia GT 780
RAM - 16GB
Storage - 1TB SSHD

Zotac - $599
CPU - Intel Core (TBD) 
Graphics - Nvidia GeForce GTX
Storage - TBD